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One of the smallest and daintiest of all finches, the American Goldfinch is protected by law. It is a very popular cage bird with vivid coloring. The head of the American Goldfinch is usually patterned in crimson, with white and black on the throat and a tawny underside. The wings are black slashed through with broad gold bars and the tail is black with white tips. The female has much the same coloring as the male.
During breeding times, the American Goldfinch can be found in gardens, orchards and on cultivated land. This bird prefers the highest and outer most branches when in a tree, seeming to avoid the foliage. During winter it is common to see a whole flock descend into weed infested wasteland or along the roadways. The Goldfinch feeds on any type of seed but seems to prefer thistles, chickweed, groundsel and dandelions. This bird is regarded as a good friend to farmers since it also feeds on insects.
In flight this bird seems to flutter gracefully reminding one of a butterfly. It's movement in flight reflect all the movements made by this beautiful bird. The song of the American Goldfinch is much like that of a canary. It is known to perch on seed heads, clinging as if for dear life. In courtship the male will put on an elaborate and varied display. He exhibits his plumage, spreads his wings and sways from side to side to attract the female.
The nest of the American Goldfinch is neat and carefully constructed into a roomy, cup like shape. These birds usually nest in bushes making their nest of dry grass, moss and small roots, then lining this with thistledown. The female will lay four to five eggs that are bluish white in color with purplish brown spots and streaks. The Greypates or young of the American Goldfinch have brown heads and backs that are streaked with brown. They feed on regurgitated food brought to them by both parents. Greypates will also have distinctive gold and black bands on their wings but as chicks do not have the parents bright head patterns.